In the non-profit world, you fight for attention, donations, and providing community services with other agencies every day. You do not have the dollars to do mass advertising campaigns. You probably don’t have the staff to do it either.
That’s why so many non-profits have turned to Content Marketing as the solution to get the word out. But is it working?
A survey of more than 200 non-profit marketers by the Content Marketing Institute reveals poor results. Nearly half say they can’t demonstrate that their content marketing efforts increased fundraising, donations, or sales. While 79 percent of non-profits say they use content marketing, only 24 percent say they would classify their efforts as successful.
If you want your content marketing efforts to work, here are 7 goals you should keep in mind:
1. Stay True To Your Mission
You do have an advantage over brands trying to sell products: you have a mission behind your message. This provides a powerful storytelling tool that can be used to create effective content marketing campaigns. Your stories can be educational, aspirational, or inspirational. Evoking strong emotions can motivate people to act and share your message.
2. Always Have A Goal In Mind
A good story is only the first step. Before you write the first sentence, you should really determine what is the end goal for your content. Is it to spur donations? Demonstrate how you are doing good in the world? Drive people to an event? Educate people on problems in your community? Without establishing a goal, you have no tangible way to measure results.
When developing your content, you always want to make sure the message motivates people to take action that ties directly to your stated goal.
3. Commit to A Plan
Every non-profit faces staffing needs. There are too many jobs and too few people to do it. Content marketing can often get put on the “back burner” while other needs are met. However, if you don’t commit to a plan and stick to it, it won’t work.
91% of nonprofits report they create new content at least weekly. Are you? Content Marketing experts recommend posting multiple times a week, but only if you have content worth sharing.
4. Use A Marketing Calendar
This goal will help you narrow your focus. One of the best strategies is to put together a loose marketing calendar, based around organizational events and needs, and look for content that will support these goals. You don’t have to lock in ideas in concrete, but your marketing calendar can serve as a framework for developing your content. It also helps to avoid conflicts between promotion and development teams. You don’t want to launch an educational campaign about one issue when your donor development team is focused on something different.
Coordination is the key. Start with key dates, such as holidays, events, and fundraisers. Add in any key focal points for your organization throughout the year. These might include capital campaigns, donor drives, service days, or community outreach. This will help you prioritize content tied to key dates. Then, you can fill in gaps with other content messages you want to send.
5. Practice Good SEO Strategies
Part of your goal as a content marketer is to position your non-profit as the leading resource in your area of expertise. When people search for the services you provide, you want to be at the top of Google’s list. Unless you want to spend the money on paid search ads, the best way to do that is to regularly develop fresh content that used SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tactics.
This means learning the keywords people use when they search. Google’s free Keyword Planner is a good place to research. While you don’t want to “stuff” your content with keywords, you do want to use the key search terms several times throughout your content. If you can use these keywords in your title and/or headings, it will also have more impact.
The Title and Meta Description are often minimized by content marketers. Yet, many people will choose to click based on the title or the meta description, which is the roughly 160 characters that appear under the title in a Google search. Make sure you use these to the fullest. When writing a headline, ask yourself “Would this really make someone want to click on it?” Keywords should get priority.
Include links to relevant content from high authority sources. Work the links naturally into your content. A good tactic is to link to additional content on your own website or marketing materials. Not only does that show you have additional resources available, but it may create more engagement from readers.
6. Use Strong Visuals, Graphics, And Video
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. While we’re not sure that’s exactly right, visuals do make a difference. Strong visuals can help make your content stand out. It can also help people remember what they saw. Research shows that people reading text are likely to remember 10% or less three days later. When a relevant image was paired with the same information, people have been shown to remember more than 60% of the message.
7. Promote Your Content
It’s not enough to create great content, you’ve got to promote it to drive people to it. For non-profits, one of your best resources will be your email database. Email from known non-profits are trusted and get clicked on. In fact, nonprofits have the highest open rates (24.11%) of any industry.
Leverage your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) or Donor Database, including any email newsletter platform or marketing automation you have.
You’ll want to take full advantage of social media. Non-profits see the best results when they tell stories on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. While Instagram and Pinterest may get attention, they don’t generally lead to action as often for non-profits. Encourage your staff, volunteers, and board members to share your message with their social friends.
Consider spending a few bucks to “boost” key content to increase exposure. LinkedIn and Facebook allow for deep targeting options. For example, if you know the typical person who becomes a passionate donor, you can target similar audiences for your messages.
8. Measure Your Impact
This leads us right back to your goals. It’s critical that you measure the results to validate whether you are meeting your objectives. Social share and likes are great, but if your goal is to solicit donations, the only metric that really matters is the dollars raised.
The rest is simple: If it works, do more of it. If it doesn’t work, try something different next time.
9. Consider Hiring A Content Writer
If all these steps sound like a lot of work, you’re right. It is. Doing it as a “side job” or “one more thing on the list” likely will not get the job done. Consider hiring a content writer to handle your content marketing or supplement your efforts.
Time is your most valuable asset. Working with a professional content writer will free up your time for other essential activities. You time is better user developing a marketing calendar and making sure your organizational priorities are aligned. Leave the content marketing development to the pros.
A content writer can maximize your content and your exposure. They can develop higher quality content without tying up staff resources. They stick to deadlines. The best can quickly learn your organization’s voice and mission.
If you too are a non profit organization, trying to maximize your reach, focus on the above rules of content marketing strategy. Or, reach out to us and we can help you draft the right content marketing plan for you.